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Subject:
From:
"Howard W. Ludwig" <[log in to unmask]>
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Date:
Tue, 10 Feb 1998 09:02:00 -0500
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In response to Richard Riehle, Mike Feldman wrote:

>>
>>   Some of the best have had no degree at all but a high aptitude. Others
>>   that have been really good, BS in Linguistics, MA in Music, BA in
>>   Psychology.  Usually these have been people who have good academic
>>   skills, are not afraid of mathematics and science, and savor the
>>   challenges associated with software problem-solving.  They are also
>>   brimming with motivation.

> Right, I agree. To do "programming" often does not require a lot of
> formal education. I do think that to do any kind of serious software
> design requires at least enough formality to know the difference
> between design and hacking.
>>
>>   I have long felt that applicants for the B.S. in computer science
>>   should be first given the old-time IBM programming aptitude test
>>   and only allowed in to the program if they get an A on it.  I know,
>>   I know, Dr. Feldman.  That seems a little too Draconian.

> Actually, I kinda think I agree with you about the old PAT.:-)
>>
>>   I am just in that sort of mood today.  :->

> Me too.
>>
>>   Richard Riehle
>>   www.adaworks.com
>>
As an adjunct faculty member and an employee of the military-industrial
complex, my experience has been that a significant number of people
who go into computer science and computer information systems majors
at school do so because they perceive that is where the jobs and money
are, rather than because they have a love for the subject.  Some of
those people end up enjoying it and doing fine.  The others are unhappy
and simply tolerate it, with inadequate understanding and appreciation
of the subject; that breeds poor programmers and software engineers.
It would be nice if there were a qualifying test up front which would
help the CS faculty focus their efforts on students who really are there
to learn software engineering and have a reasonable proficiency, because
there is real value in a _good_ CS program (and as Mike notes, CS
programs run the gamut in quality, with the CSAB accreditation being
a valuable indicator).

Many of the people with other majors have demonstrated an ability to
reason and perform well in their field of study and get into programming,
either in support of activities for their major or simply for fun on
the side.  Such people know what programming is like and apply for
such jobs based on that knowledge.  Many times they need some guidance
in the overall software engineering process, and appreciate the rigor
and beauty of software engineering when it is presented to them, the same
sort of rigor and beauty they have experienced in their mathematics,
science, philosophy, or music majors.

Howard W. LUDWIG
Working, but not speaking, for Lockheed Martin Electronics & Missiles Co.

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